Hanging out with musical revolutionaries


I’ve known Jason Breckenridge for many years and over that time the two insights I’ve gained about what makes him tick are 1) He concocts the most ridiculously unattainable schemes in an effort to make his working life as enjoyable as possible; 2) He invariably succeeds in pulling off these “unattainable” schemes. So when Jason pitched the idea of a series of television documentaries to Al Jazeera on the topic of the “Music of Resistance” – a series that would have him flying all over the globe gaining access to the inner sanctum of the likes of Seun Kuti, youngest son of Jason’s absolute idol Fela Anikulapo Kuti, creator of Afrobeat and also the voice of the oppressed in Nigeria – a series that would have him recruit Steve Chandra Savale, London-based activist, desi guitarist extraordinaire, and lifeblood of the politically entrenched Asian Dub Foundation as interviewer and presenter – a series that would let him tell the stories of different musicians that matter, not only in the sounds they produce but in their messages and actions and direct effects on their respective communities…I was 1) Insanely jealous; 2) Knew he would pull it off.


Steve Chandra Savale

Music of Resistance follows the chronicles of musicians who use their craft to realize radical political change. Steve Chandra Savale travels to Nigeria, Mozambique, Brazil, East London, Cape Verde and the desert of the Southern Sahara in order to introduce us to the lives of these iconoclastic musicians. In this Montreal Serai issue on Canada and Militarism – there is much to be learned from movements in other countries to reverse the trend towards arms. For example – one of the broadcasts in the series focuses on musical group Tinariwen, formerly a group of rebel soldiers, exiled from Mali and training alongside Colonel Gadaffi in Libya. After years of violence and conflict in a civil war in Northern Mali as they tried to preserve Touareg cultural identity, they eventually decided to trade in their guns for musical instruments and effect change in a different way than the cycle of killing that had prevailed. These electric guitar wielding revolutionaries have been instrumental in promoting peace through community action, for example by participating in the recent (January 2009) congress for peace that took place in Ersane in Norhtern Mali with 1500 Touareg  representatives as well as government representatives both from Libya and Mali.

You can check out the an introduction to Music of Resistance:

Steve Chandra Savale: Presenter

Produced, Directed and Written by Jason Breckenridge for Al Jazeera


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Prasun Lala is a blues-rock guitarist, who has acted often in Montreal Serai plays and is pursuing a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering at McGill University.